My biggest failure? Ironically – it came from a pass…

In September 2015, just over three years ago, like many other 18-year-olds – I took my driving test. It was a shock to many (none more so than myself) that I passed first time. I left for university a week or so after this unexpected achievement, and wouldn’t drive again until after graduation.

The classic ‘I-passed-my-driving-test-to-the-shock-of-the-world’ selfie.

Not because I couldn’t – legally, I could. I had both the license, and I was insured on my Mum’s car. But I chose not to. I’d found learning to drive really challenging, and to be completely honest – it frightened me. I’m not a natural… let’s just put it that way.

Learning to drive with Mum & Dad was at times… challenging… to say the very least. What follows is a collection of my favourite quotes and happiest memories…

*Disclaimer: I love my parents & brother DEARLY. They are wonderful, kind and brilliant people. I owe everything I have, and everything I am – to them.*

Dad: Jess – the cycle lane is for cyclists NOT YOUR LEFT WHEEL.

Dad: Jess, you need to learn to A N T I C I P A T E – like NOW – brake, brAKE, bRAKE – JESUS CHRIST BRAKE. (YouTube ‘Fenton’ if you want to truly feel the moment… similar sort of panicked vibe)

Mum: (often sat in the back): David, Jessica – if you could both just CALM DOWN and learn to LISTEN to EACH OTHER this whole thing will be a lot less stressful… (honestly, my mum is a first class diplomat, the UN don’t know what they’re missing…)

*After yet another stall/terrible reverse* Gareth: Bants, got the whole thing on Snapchat.

And my personal favourite…

Dad: Have you overdosed on carrots recently? Because seeing as you’ve YET AGAIN forgotten to turn your lights on… you must be able to see in the dark! (I’m ashamed to admit this was literally less than a week ago…)

Anyway – my point is – getting back on the roads more regularly has been really REALLY tough.

Hill-starts, turning right, and reversing are my personal demons. Also roundabouts. Why are they a thing? People just don’t indicate. Lanes are so vague. Plus there’s often fancy foliage blocking your vision (cc. ASDA roundabout, sort it out Grantham).

Fundamentally, what was initially a huge success became (in my mind) – a long term failure. Every now and again, during my three years at University – I’d promise my parents I’d have another go, and it would be awful. I’d stall (often at a major junction), panic, get frustrated, often get upset, and then give up.

But now? I had to face my fears. I’m back home working full time, and I need to be able to get myself to and from work. Fundamentally, I need transport – and my shifts often start at 5.30am, so public transport wasn’t really an option… So, I took the plunge, and bought my own car. RIP my finances xx

Flora ❤

She’s called Flora and she’s PERFECT. Really small, super cheap and a BEAUTIFUL bright red (mainly so I don’t lose her… although I did spend five minutes trying to unlock the wrong car the other day… will be eternally grateful to the true owner for being VERY understanding and not calling the police). I’ve practised driving constantly over the past few months, and I’ve steadily developed my confidence, and learnt to drive with constant anticipation (see Dad, I do listen).

I was asked very recently what I thought my biggest failure was; which is where the idea for this piece came from. It really got me thinking. I instantly interpreted it as a negative question. But it didn’t have to be…

Because surely, without our failures, what do we have to show for ourselves? Just our successes? Just when things went well? Just when things were easy?

So not the case.

Often our ‘biggest failures’ can lead to the best, and most beautiful successes. Plus great stories (as above – pretty sure a video of Dad teaching me how to drive would have gone viral).

So to anyone reading this post who is perhaps feeling more surrounded by ‘failure’ than ‘success’ at present, please remember that your ‘failures’ have the potential to become successes. I have literally cried at the wheel in frustration and fear, more times than I can remember, but I have also cried with happiness and pride – when I drove to and from work, for the first time, on my own.

Sounds daft I know, but for me – it was a huge deal, and it still is.

So, don’t consign ‘failures’ and disappointments to purely negative sections of your life. Often they lay the foundations for the best, and brightest moments.

Just to clarify, I am safely parked (don’t selfie and drive kids).

P.S. To the guy stood laughing at Flora and I trying to reverse park last week – it may have been a forty-point turn, but I got there eventually. Appreciate your support x

P.P.S. Dad – thank you for your never-ending patience and perseverance. Thank you for gifting me with some wonderful quotes, and letting me share them with the world. But above all, thank you for never giving up on me (both at the wheel, and in life). You’re a legend x

2 thoughts on “My biggest failure? Ironically – it came from a pass…

  1. Oh Jess this is brill. Nic and I had a good giggle. We could just hear/picture your mum and dad giving their support and encouragement and Gareth less so! Xxx Love the photos too x🚘

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  2. Dear Jess, how I laughed at your “learning to drive”post and oh how the memories of my own learning to drive came back to me. Firstly. I was a late starter (age 27, 2 children at school and pregnant again!….it’s the way we did in those far off days of the 70’s, got married, had children and then started to look at life skills, how to raise children and not lose them how to cook and not poison them and oh yeah, how to dtive a car so so I could transport them about, school, brownies, parties, football etc etc. Which brings me to my driving. Yes I had a good teacher, a ‘sergeant major’ type who had a brilliant reputation and expected learners to instantly carry out instructions to the letter. I was in awe of him as well as being terrified. I can look back now and see how he helped me develop my reputation as ‘never a quitter’ and anyway I had to get my licence before the baby came. So, lump in throat, tummy fluttering, I tried to master the intricacies of the Big H (gear stick) the three point turn etc. I didn’t practice with my husband and family in case I killed them, such was my belief that “you don’t have control of the car!!”ringing in my ear. My husband, always kind and loving and encouraging kept saying Don’t worry love, it doesn’t matter if you don’t pass, a sentiment shared by friends and neighbours.(they expected a failure). I pressed on! progressing through the basics I found it difficult to get to grips with the “biggies” like slowing down and changing gear to turn left whilst going down a hill. Sgt Major had the answer! “We’ll get this sorted once and for all” He took me to the top of the biggest hill you ever saw. My heart was in my mouth, my tummy turned over, the baby kicked in protest. Gritting my teeth, swallowing the lump in my throat, and sending up a silent prayer I got behind the wheel. I didn’t fancy my chances but pride took over the nerves and fear of death and off I went. Next thing I knew I’d done it! From then on I wasn’t too bad…….until the day of the test. By now 8 months pregnant, size of a house, it was last chance saloon! The pre test was nothing short of a disaster. Driving on a busy main road, ahead of me, coming in opposite direction, was a fire engine followed by an ambulance all bells sirens and lights flashing! Sgt Major barked ‘turn right here’ I was shocked and said what about those? Turn right he repeated and starting to hyperventilate I did as I was told and lo and behold we were over. Looking back we obviously had plenty of time but to a 8 months pregnant learner driver it looked impossible. We ploughed on and I stalled on the 3 point turn, went up the kerb on the reverse round a corner only to have Sgt Major roar (well maybe not roar, more through gritted teeth) you hav’nt got control. Off we went to drive centre and by then all my nerves had gone, after all no one including me expected me to pass did they and even my instructor said I was not in control so I was going through the motions. The result? well, I had a perfect round, no observations and a pass! WOW ! The morale is….forget your nerves, they only get in the way, keep going, blank pessimism, and as my dear old grandad used to sing to me “Keep right on to the end of the road, keep right on to the end”…….good old ex WWI soldier that he was.
    The after story……….how I gained driving confidence, despite going wrong way roundabout, trying to turn a corner in 4th gear etc.etc………well, thats another story.


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